LIONEL MESSI was NOT Barcelona’s best player this season.
That’s according to Spanish newspaper Marca, who rated the Catalans’ squad after losing their La Liga crown to Real Madrid this week.
Barca’s unusually patchy form saw their bitter rivals overtake them after the coronavirus shutdown – with Messi not shy to criticise his under-performing team-mates.
Yet, despite 28 goals and 25 assists in 2019/20, Messi missed out on top spot to goalkeeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen.
Elsewhere in the rankings, last summer’s £108million signing Antoine Griezmann ranks just 18th, after a disappointing debut season at the Camp Nou.
Luis Suarez meanwhile, places just four spots higher in 14th after struggling with injuries this term.
Youngsters Riqui Puig, 20, and Ansu Fati, 17, on the other hand, have impressed enough to earn third and fourth place, respectively.
Madrid-based Marca is the most-read daily newspaper in Spain with a readership of over 2.5 million and pays particular attention to the daily goings-on at Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid.
In 2008, the paper was accused by then-Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson as Real Madrid’s “vehicle to unsettle players” during the Spanish side’s pursuit of Cristiano Ronaldo.
They are also responsible for awarding the Pichichi and Zamora trophies to La Liga’s top goalscorer and best keeper, respectively.
Real Madrid secured the Spanish title on Thursday night with a 2-1 win over Villarreal while Barcelona fell to a 2-1 defeat at home to Osasuna.
In the aftermath, Messi called out his teammates and accused them of lacking character, citing Champions League collapses against Roma and Liverpool as evidence.
“I said a while ago that if we carry on like this it will be very hard for us to win the Champions League,” he said.
“I’m sure the fans are running out of patience because, playing like we have done, and after the Roma and defeats, we’re not giving them anything.
“We were not expecting this. We didn’t want to end La Liga playing like this, but it kind of reflects how this whole year has gone.”
Last week the six-time Ballon d’Or winner pressed pause on negotiations over a new contract at Barcelona amid frustration with the club’s hierarchy.